Head Over Heels
Blessed with a cut-rate deal on a luxurious Eastside Manhattan apartment but stuck with four super-thin, super-model roommates, Amanda Pierce (Monica Potter) doesn’t know whether to thank her lucky stars or curse her lot in life. But when the glamorous roomies do a magical makeover, Amanda is transformed into a beautiful and trendy replica of them.
All she needs now is the right guy and he just so happens to live in the next building. But while he is a charmer, the girls spy him committing what appears to be a cold-blooded murder. Suddenly the super-models are super-sleuths – or at least trying to be – all-the-while making sure not to commit a fashion faux pas.
The makers of “Head Over Heels” attempt to revive screwball and slapstick comedy, failing to understand that you need actors gifted with a sense of comic timing to bring those genres back to life. And you must have material that’s not tired, coarse or cheap. The film has two plots, one about a mousy girl who moves in with four supermodels, each learning life lessons from one another. Then there is the detective story about her newly discovered Prince Charming, who, dog-gone-it, may just be a psychopathic killer. Unfortunately, neither scenario is given any impedance. It isn’t just the models who are dim bulbs in this comic outing. So are all the characters. This is neither a good example of slapstick or screwball comedy. It’s neither fish nor foul, though it smells to high heaven. What we get is 90-minutes of stereotypical portraits of empty-headed and self-indulgent models, and a lot of toilet humor. Literally. Forgive the graphicness of the following description, but this is what the mostly teenage screening audience roared over. Hiding out in a man’s apartment, three models take refuge in a bathroom shower. When the male lead enters the room, he sits down on the toilet. The girls and the audience then hear what appears to be intestinal expulsion. It is a drawn-out and crude scene. Later, the same models hide out in the men’s stall of a restaurant just as two plumbers enter to fix a clogged toilet. First, the women hear the men’s comments as they struggle to clear the toilet pipe. The dialogue is sexual double entendre. When the toilet is plunged, it causes the next commode to explode, covering the girls with feces. I call that shock humor. It’s much like hearing a 90-year-old lady suddenly curse like a truck driver. You don’t expect such language from a quaint little old matron. Those not believing their ears react with a nervous laugh. While Monica Potter has shown an acting flair in “Patch Adams” and “Without Limits” and her co-star Freddie Prinze, Jr. was interesting in “Money Kings,” neither shines, yet, as comic foils. While Cary Grant, Tony Curtis and Carol Lombard inspired film attendance in their day due to their great looks, they also knew their way around slapstick pratfalls and screwball gags. But then they also had material by Ben Hecht (“Nothing Sacred”) or I.A.L. Diamond (“The Fortune Cookie”) and were directed by the likes of Billy Wilder (“Ninotchka”) or George Cukor (“Dinner At Eight”). These were filmmakers who didn’t rely on vulgarity to stimulate the funny bone. Due to their restraint, no doubt mandated by the then controlling Motion Picture Code of Decency, their work in films such as “His Girl Friday” and “Some Like It Hot” is still considered classic comedy. Will anyone be watching “Head Over Heels” in fifty years? It amazes me that anyone is going to watch it this weekend.